Paper Trails: "Institute of Terror"

View Fullscreen

Paper Trails:

This interactive map illustrates the correspondence between Louise Withers Sloan and her family during her time at Peace Institute in Raleigh, North Carolina. While many of these places no longer exist as they did in the early 1900s, this virtual representation of her letters shows the permanence of paper trails and how today, they continue to represent Louise's well-documented and paper-preserved life. 

How To Use It: 

Click on the link in the top left corner that says "View Fullscreen." Then click on one of the titles on the right hand side of the map or click on one of the blue shaded dots to begin. Read the letter and then click away to view the route. You can zoom in and out using your mouse or using the controls in the top left hand corner.


Peace Institute was an all-women's college. According to an undated Davidson College Library interview with Louise, "Peace used the same curriculum as Davidson did (textbooks and everything), but it mostly had a reputation as a finishing school because hardly anyone graduated and most only went there for the social aspect." In one of her letters, she refers to Peace as an "Institute of Terror." She hated being away from family and often her letters consisted of feelings of homesickness and deep sadness. She suffered from an unknown illness and weak nerves. Louise was a character, often filling her letters with dramatic details and revealing intimate moments with her sister. She was also very frugal and she tells her parents how much things cost, even if it is something very small. As time went on, Louise was happier but disappointed by the academics and offerings available to her when she graduated. When she graduated, Peace was demoted to a Junior College due to financial reasons. Unfortunately, her certificate was downgraded and she had to complete her degree elsewhere. Davidson wouldn't give her the full certificate so she was able to complete her degree at Duke University back in Raleigh. 

All letters, images, and background information were generously provided by the Davidson College Archives.